PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday, September 20, 2007 Media Centre Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR remains adamant that the Guyanese people need a measure of relief from VAT as it has caused a major spike in the cost of living;
• The PNCR has already underscored the continuing rein of poor governance by the PPP/C in relation to the appointment of Ganga Persaud who is clearly unfit to be head of the Public Service Commission. The Party is constrained to make a similar assertion in relation to the appointment of Karran Singh to the critical position of Head of Guyana Water Inc.;
• The PNCR wishes to congratulate Ms. Dianne Perreira on her selection to be a referee for the current Women’s World Cup competition that is currently on the way in China;
• The PNCR is compelled to condemn the recent intrusion upon the Buxton community by some members of the Joint Services on the 17th and 18th of this month. From all reports the raid was unprofessional and was designed to punish and humiliate the Buxton community.


VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT)

The 16% VAT tax continues to be a burden on the working and non-working poor. The Party has addressed this matter at several of its Press Conferences and has offered a solution to this grave situation. Other stakeholders such as the Red Thread organization and the Clerical and Commercial Workers Union (CCWU), among others, have called for a revision downwards of this tax. Yet the PPP/C Administration remains unmoved, claiming on one occasion through the instrument of the chief spokesman, Dr. Roger Luncheon that it was too soon to revisit the effects of the tax. But in the same week that Luncheon made his pronouncements the Commissioner of the GRA said that VAT was working well. Thus confusion becomes policy.

The Party remains adamant that the Guyanese people need a measure of relief from VAT as it has caused a major spike in the cost of living. The time to act is now so that relief could be brought to the suffering people of Guyana. Further excuses would be criminal in the face of the suffering of the Guyanese people.



POOR GOVERNANCE

The reign of the PPP/C’s poor governance continues. The latest chapter in this political saga is the appointment of Mr. Karran Singh as Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Water Inc (GWI). Now Mr. Karran Singh does not exactly have an unblemished record and character in the domain of the Public Service. Most thinking Guyanese will recall that on a previous occasion when he was head of the Guyana Water Authority (GUYWA) Singh was rebuked by the Auditor General for not following tendering procedures.

Here is a quick look at the relevant facts. The Auditor General in his report for 1997 specified that there were irregularities at GUYWA including a $34.8m fraud. His office was able to determine that two contracts totaling that sum were given to Plastics Products Ltd. but they “were not referred to Cabinet for approval although these amounts required such approval”. In relation to one of the contracts for $14.8m the Auditor General observed that the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Karran Singh claimed that these pipes were urgently required for the Leonora Project on the West Coast of Demerara and that the entire cost would be met by the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund (SILWF). Subsequent investigations revealed that the SILWF Secretary/Manager at the time denied making any such commitment. It was not long after this particular malfeasance that the World Bank took a hard line and indicated that it would no longer fund future projects for GUYWA as long as Mr. Karran Singh remained head of GUYWA.

The PNCR has already underscored the continuing rein of poor governance by the PPP/C in relation to the appointment of Ganga Persaud who is clearly unfit to be head of the Public Service Commission. The Party is constrained to make a similar assertion in relation to the appointment of Karran Singh to the critical position of Head of Guyana Water Inc. The PNCR is convinced that the PPPC does not place a high value on integrity for public office. In fact the message that the Jagdeo administration is sending is that we will reward the corrupt and incompetent – a message which is not good for the development of Guyana. It now appears that being involved in corruption is a criterion for public office.

More importantly, GWI needs energetic and visionary management to take it out of the mass of problems, which are now confronting that organisation. It must be recalled that it was under Mr. Karran Singh’s watch that the ICC had to step in when as CEO of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for World Cup Cricket, Mr. Singh was unable to deliver, after many revised schedules, a world cup ready stadium. Clearly Mr. Singh’s credentials as an effective and efficient manager are highly questionable. He is not the right man for the job. This is another blatant case of jobs for the boys.

PNCR CONGRATULATES PERREIRA

The PNCR wishes to congratulate Ms. Dianne Perreira on her selection to be a referee for the current Women’s World Cup competition that is currently on the way in China. Ms. Perreira’s achievement is all the more noteworthy because it occurred without any formal support. In a society that had a well-organized sports programme she would have readily found support and by extension raise the profile of this nation.

The lack of an integrated and coordinated sports programme is a feature of the PPP/C’s approach to sports. Fifteen years after its accession to office sports is still being run on an ad hoc basis and for the attainment of narrow political ends. This is most unfortunate as sports in the modern world is now widely regarded as a factor for bringing different ethnic groups together and its ability to mop up unemployment especially among young people is proven. The PNCR has no doubt that a properly funded sports programme on a truly national scale can become the hub for extensive economic activities, inclusive of tourism and help in the process of income and employment generation. More particularly sport can help in the process of improving the health of the nation and so reduce the high cost of catering for diseases which result from the lack of exercise. Sports can reduce the national health bill significantly.

The PNCR therefore calls on the PPP/C government to change its attitude to sports and to take a more serious and modern approach by integrating it into a future nation development strategy. Such an approach will redound to the benefit of Guyanese in general and the youth in particular.

BUXTON

The People’s National Congress Reform has called for an independent investigation into the shooting death of Donna Herod on September 4, 2007. The Party called for such an investigation because it believed that it would clarify the circumstances surrounding her death and perhaps lower the existing tension in the Buxton community. The PNCR is very disappointed that in response to its call for an independent investigation, the police have announced that it will launch a probe into Ms. Herod’s death. While the Party has the highest regard for our hard working women and men in uniform, it has to affirm that the police cannot investigate its self. Justice will only be served by an independent investigation.

In the mean time the Party is compelled to condemn the recent intrusion upon the Buxton community by some members of the Joint Services on the 17th and 18th of this month. From all reports the raid was unprofessional and was designed to punish and humiliate the Buxton community. In the final analysis these raids on Buxton constitute political provocation intended to incite violence, so that the PPP/C can have an excuse to blame the PNCR and satisfy its constituency that it is taking measures to combat violence and crime. This is an attempt to browbeat the citizens of Guyana by shifting the focus on Buxton. It also ensures that criminal activities will occur in other areas without the required attention. This is dangerous stereotyping that can provide a cover for crimes committed in other communities.

Shifting of the focus to Buxton, does not address the real issue. The real issue is for the police to be given the required resources to improve the quality of policemen, their professionalism and their intelligence colleting and forensic capabilities.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday, 20 September, 2007